Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Distribution of Subterranean Termite Colonies (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

Authors
item Cornelius, Mary
item Duplessis, Leanne
item Osbrink, Weste

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 7, 2007
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Citation: Cornelius, M.L., Duplessis, L.M., Osbrink, W.L. 2007. The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Distribution of Subterranean Termite Colonies (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana. Sociobiology 50(2):1-25.

Interpretive Summary: The impact of Hurricane Katrina on the distribution of subterranean termites in City Park, New Orleans, LA was determined in four sections of the park where termite activity had been continuously monitored since 2002. Monitoring stations were checked on a monthly basis. Twelve distinct Formosan subterranean termite colonies were identified using mark-release-recapture techniques between 2003-August 2005. Monitoring stations were checked for the first time after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in October of 2005. The percentage of active stations in October 2005 post-Katrina was 54% compared to 59% of stations occupied by termites in August 2005 pre-Katrina. Based on these results, there is no evidence that the flooding had a significant impact on the distribution of Formosan subterranean termites in City Park. Laboratory experiments were conducted to examine how flooding affected the tunneling systems of termites kept on different substrates for different lengths of time. All of the termites drowned when containers were flooded after 1 wk. However, there were survivors in containers flooded after 4 and 8 wk. These results provide evidence that the presence of carton material can improve termite survival in flooded areas. This research will benefit both the pest control industry and the consumer by providing information about how a catastrophic flooding event affected subterranean termite populations.

Technical Abstract: The impact of Hurricane Katrina on the distribution of subterranean termites in City Park, New Orleans, LA was determined in four sections of the park where termite activity had been continuously monitored since 2002. Monitoring stations were checked on a monthly basis. Twelve distinct C. formosanus colonies were identified using mark-release-recapture techniques between 2003-August 2005. Monitoring stations were checked for the first time after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in October of 2005. The total number of monitoring stations in City Park decreased from 125 in August 2005 to 112 in October 2005 due to downed trees/missing stations. The percentage of active stations in October 2005 post-Katrina was 54% compared to 59% of stations occupied by termites in August 2005 pre-Katrina. None of the nine monitoring stations that had been occupied by Reticulitermes spp. pre-Katrina was active with Reticulitermes spp. in October 2005 and three of these stations were active with C. formosanus. The percentage of stations occupied by termites in August 2006 was significantly lower than in August 2005. However, there were no significant differences in the percentage of stations occupied by termites in August 2005, October 2005, and October 2006. Laboratory bioassays were conducted to examine how flooding affected the tunneling systems of termites kept on different substrates for different lengths of time. All of the termites drowned when containers were flooded after 1 wk. However, there were survivors in containers flooded after 4 and 8 wk. These results provide evidence that the presence of carton material can improve termite survival in flooded areas.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page